The Igbo Elders Consultative Forum has described those calling for a sit-in or boycott of the general elections would be treated and regarded as an enemy of the Igbo nation.
The forum on Wednesday stated that since independence in 1960, 2023 is the best chance for the South- East to produce the president of Nigeria.
The Igbo Elders, comprising the former chairman of the Police Service Commission, Chief Simeon Okeke; a former governor of Anambra State, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife; and a senior lecturer in the Department of Public Administration at Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Prof. Charles Nwekeaku, among others, issued the warning during a press conference in Abuja.
They insisted that the general elections must take place in the South-East, advising those agitating for Biafra that the best way to achieve it would be through their votes and not bullets.
“Elections in the South-East must be held. We urge the people of the South-East to turn out in force on February 25 to vote for the candidates of their choice. Those calling for a sit-in at home will be regarded as enemies of the Igbo nation.
“To those who are demanding a separate country called Biafra, don’t forget that your fathers and grandfathers demanded and fought to have that same Biafra roughly 52 years ago. Millions died in action and out of sheer starvation. Some of us here participated in that bloody war. What makes you believe that you can win that war this time through extreme activism? That war was fought with guns, armoured tanks, etc. We must think strategically in determining how to structure the future for our people, children, and grandchildren.”
The elders urged the people of the region to learn from history and similar situations with the method adopted across the globe.
“You could argue that your demand for separate existence is a basic human right. But the quest for a separate existence is not restricted to Nigeria. In Britain, for instance, Scotland, which is part of that country, is seeking a separate existence. So is the case in Spain, where Barcelona is demanding the same. None of them is demanding it by killing and maiming their fellow countrymen and women, by imposing a needless sit-at-home order.
“They do it by participating actively in their country’s general elections, where they sponsor candidates who will be their voice in their parliament, where they argue their case and push it via a referendum to decide which way to go. Why not borrow a leaf from them and pursue your demand in a civilised manner? You can never get Biafra through violence, slaughtering yourselves, or sitting at home when parents should be at work and children should be in school.
“South-East residents have been coerced into complying with a sit-at-home order. This irregularity, which has also been extended to the Election Day, when people are looking forward to using their vote to speak their minds, must not be allowed to happen.
“It is for this reason that the combined voices of elders, youths, men, women, and our retired military and paramilitary officers have come out to state unequivocally and reject this situation in its entirety.”